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Day 7 - The National Archives of Ireland

Looking at a1700 Deed that Pat found at the National Archives beautifully written on Vellum

Time pushes on! Today was spent at the National Archives, located on Bishop Street. I was telling the group today about my first visit...I must have walked past Bishop Street at least five times (the street names are on the sides of the buildings). The Archives moved to this location in 1991 and it was previously the site of the Jacob's Factory (one of the locations held by rebels during the 1916 Easter Rising). You can learn more about the history of the Archives here.

Over the years much of the material used by genealogists has been digitized. In the 1990s I researched using the original census records (1901 and eventually 1911). Today you can visit the National Archives Genealogy Site and view a number of digitized records. If records have been digitized, you typically won't be allowed to use the originals. One person today was able to show that she had researched a particular land record that had been microfilmed however, the quality was very poor with a large black mark down the side of the record. (Haven't we all had that experience where the big black blob covers our ancestor?) After consulting with the Archivist on Duty she was allowed to view the original book. It was apparent right away that the edge of the book was damaged, possibly by water and/or a bug infestation which was why the microfilm showed the black line.

The day I arrived I had stopped by the Archives to order some Probate files, primarily Administrations. It takes about two days for these to be brought to the Archives from Four Courts. Four of the five I ordered were available. Because of the Fire in 1922, most probate files prior to 1900 don't exist, except for the Calendar (a brief abstract of the Probate record). For those probated in the Principal Registry (Dublin) they are not available until 1904 and unfortunately the one I order was from 1901.

Enough of my work...let's look at what some of the Researchers found.

Happy Hunting!

From Pat...

The pieces to my Great Carney Family Mystery are beginning to come together. Today, I found an indenture, a deed, penned on calf skin, dated "the twentyeth day of May in the year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred", from Murrough, Vicount Blessington, to Sarah Finnemor. Sarah was the ancestor of the man who in Griffiths Valuation, was the landlord to my Carney ancestors 120 years later. The document was so old and fragile, it was really terrifying to try to unfold it. The pieces to the Great Family Mystery are skidding toward completion, coming from unexpected sources, indeed. (See the photo at the top of the blog taken by Cath Desmarais)

From Andy...

One of our primary research goals was to learn more about George Sweeny’s visits to Ireland later in his life, especially in 1892. I had documentation that Dublin Castle was trailing him on his 1892 visit. It appeared we were going to leave the National Archives empty handed late this afternoon.

Michael persuaded me to make one last appeal to Brian Donnelly, the Senior Archivist with the evidence we had from a book written about Dunmore, the area in County Galway. I showed Brian the short paragraph one more time, he took a photograph of the article and went once more to the record archive. He found the Secret Western Division Crime Department - Special Branch Monthly Reports for every month of 1892. Captain George Sweeny is in a number of the reports, especially the August 1892 Report.

I have been excited every stop of the way in Dublin from the National Library, the Irish Family History Centre at EPIC, and now the National Archives.

We are hitting on all cylinders.

From Joan...

Today I saw a letter from 1828, signed by 30 Roman Catholic men from the area where my great-grandfather was probably born about 1840. Two Flanagan's and two Dunne's signed. Not direct ancestors but people with my family's names were there in 1828! Very exciting.

Here's one I missed last night from Sheila followed by today's comments...

Hurray! I had some hard-won and long awaited (since 1978) success today...finding potential siblings, maybe even parents of my brick wall Kerry ancestors! This is my first ever visit to any genealogy archives. For the last few days I've spent hours communing with an obscure manuscript--an early 1800s landlord's ledger of tenant accounts--big yawn. Midmorning today, when I was questioning my sanity for even studying this manuscript, a member of our group asked me if I was in 7th heaven, and I said I was trying to decide exactly which circle of Dante's hell I felt I was in. Fifteen minutes later I found two tenants with the two surnames of my ancestral couple! This info still needs to be vetted, but for me it confirms that I'm on the right track, that all that effort was worth my while, and that I may be able to put this puzzle together after all. Thank you, Donna, for all your work and support on the Irish genealogical trail.

A brilliant sunny day in Dublin for a trip to the National Archives, perusing voter rolls and a 15-volume compilation of Irish history and genealogy. The consulting archivist introduced us to the new ‘virtual treasury,’ check it out at There we found both of my ancestral surnames on a 1641 survey of the owners who relinquished their lands to Trinity College. Some fascinating tidbits, just glad there was not a quiz on the material! And the gelato shop on Grafton street was a rich reward for our archive endeavors, then back to wrap up my manuscript project.

From Lark...

I had an interesting find this morning at the National Archives. I discovered several records relating to the school where my 2x great grandparents would have gone to school in Ower Townland, County Galway, probably in the mid 1840s. There was no specific mention of them but got lots of great context which I'll use one of these days when I write up their story.

From Gina... What a surprisingly productive day. At the National Archives of Ireland I examined the Ordinance Survey Field Book for Meenacharvey, Glencolumbkille, Co. Donegal the home place for my 2nd great grandmother Mary Boyle. The 1840 valuation reported that “There are no houses in this Townland worth Five pounds a year.” Last week I visited Castletown House in Co. Kildare (pictured below) the seat of the Townland’s Irish landowner.

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Since I missed this part in April, am enjoying reading of successes and look forward to coming to Dublin next year

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